February 28th. The Kansas Legislature is moving to overturn the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Prine, a child sex abuse case which was decided in January. Under that decision, over a dissent by then Chief Justice Kay McFarland, the court held that prior acts of sexual misconduct by the accused could only be introduced as evidence to prove intent if the prior acts and the ones charged were “so strikingly similar in pattern or so distinct in method of operation to the current allegations as to be a signature”.
Under the proposed new law, prosecutors would be able to introduce this kind of evidence provided they gave ten days notice to the Defense Counsel and the evidence met any of a broad list of descriptive categories. The Court’s rule that the modus operandi be a signature one is eliminated. It should be noted that the kind of conduct engaged in by John Prine is explicitly listed as one of the admissable circumstances. This approach is broader than simply codifying McFarland’s dissent into law. If passed and signed into law the Act would not be retroactive, however any new trials ordered under Prine would presumably be subject to the new rule.
The bill is House Bill (HB) 2250, introduced by Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican. It passed the House on February 19th, by a vote of 122-1. Only Rep. Schwab (R-Olathe) voted against (two other Republicans did not vote).